Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dichotomy Of A "Worst Person"

Have you even wondered as I have about the people who make Keith Olbermann's "Worst Persons" list who are not politicians or household names? I confess it is oftentimes my favorite segment on his nightly show on MSNBC.

Tuesday night Olbermann singled out a San Diego County sheriff's deputy who he said maced and roughly threw to the ground and then handcuffed the hostess of an event at her home where a neighbor complained about loud noises. He made it sound the deputy over-reacted. Whether the deputy-turned-Rambo did or did not is under investigation by the Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs Division.

I checked out the story on the San Diego Union-Tribune's online website to discover Olbermann's account, while fair as far as it went, left out enough critical details that I'll try to fill the gaps.

The unnamed neighbor who called in the noise complaint was said by witnesses to yell obscenities and "loser" at Francine Busby, the perennial Democratic candidate seeking election for the fourth time to the 50th Congressional District, one in which is gerrymandered to all but guarantee a Republican victory. The seat is now held by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Encinitas) a former surfer and county supervisor who Busby accused was a carpetbagger during the campaign that replaced disgraced Congressman Duke Cunningham.

Busby was addressing through a loud speaker a group of about 30 guests at the Cardiff home of
Shari Barman, 60, at about 9:30 p.m. Friday. Among other things, Barman refused to reveal her age to the deputy identified only as deputy Marshall Abbott.

The evening ended in chaos, with sheriff's cars and a firetruck parked outside, a helicopter circling overhead, a police dog sniffing around, pepper spray in the air and the 60-year-old hostess in handcuffs for refusing to reveal her date of birth to a deputy, according to the newspaper report.

In comments attached to the online story, readers citing newspaper accounts, identified Barman as a known lesbian who assaulted a police officer years ago at San Francisco International Airport. Others complained the behavior of the Sheriff's deputy was politically motivated because the group was primarily Democratic "liberal" supporters of Busby. These are fighting words in the 50th Congressional District that includes the county's north coast and affluent Rancho Santa Fe.

Busby herself used the incident to issue a letter to district voters in a plea to raise money for her campaign against Bilbray.

In full disclosure, I was a reporter for the old Evening Tribune for 19 years and personally know Sheriff Bill Kolender and his chief assistant Bill Gore as well as dozens of Democratic activists in the Solana Beach, Caridff, Encinitas and Carlsbad area.

I've never known the two top law enforcement officers to condone bad police conduct.

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